Tuesday, April 9 2024 – Hard Mode and Easy Mode

Hey Gang!


Hope y’all enjoyed the sun this weekend – and that if you were out yesterday you got to catch some eclipse action – even if it was just the eerily darkening sky. There is something powerful about communally sharing an awe-inspiring experience. I enjoyed that sensation – even through the clouds!


Lately I’ve been thinking about making things harder vs. making things easier. We often shift back and forth in life between Hard Mode and Easy Mode, sometimes with less intention than we should. I was listening to Shane Parrish on The Knowledge Project, and he views certain habits as setting yourself up to play on Hard Mode. For instance he tells his kids: if you stay up late playing video games, don’t give yourself enough time to study for your test and then don’t eat a good breakfast, you’ll be playing on Hard Mode all day. Wouldn’t it be better to cruise along on Easy Mode by getting good sleep, eating well and being prepared? I’ve been mulling this over as I move through my days. Am I playing on Hard Mode? Obviously I want the hard things I choose to do to come more easily – but I think it’s ok to intentionally switch modes.


Last weekend my group tempo took place just before the Spring Run Off on the same course, so our usual loop was off limits. We had to choose a bigger, MUCH hillier loop. Tempos are hard enough flat. When entering the last 3 minutes of a section up a 2 minute steep climb, it can feel very defeating. Our tempo pace averaged 10 seconds per kilometer slower than when we run them on flatter ground. That was definitely Hard Mode. But here’s the thing: every now and then, when you shift to Hard Mode and still complete the task, it gives you that much more confidence and ability when you go back to Easy Mode. You can’t live your whole life on Easy Mode. Nor should you constantly be on Hard Mode. You have to switch back and forth. The key is to be aware of which mode you’re on.


I like to embrace Hard Mode sometimes. I’ve been playing Sodoku again lately. I can choose between Easy, Moderate, Hard, Expert and Extreme. I choose the level that is not easy for me (currently Expert). I make mistakes and I don’t always win. But playing on Easy Mode is not fun or satisfying. I just need to know which setting I’m on. This applies everywhere. If you were up all night with work or a kid and you’re in the middle of a hectic week and maybe haven’t been eating great: your runs will be on the Hard Mode setting. That doesn’t mean don’t get out there. It just means you have to evaluate them differently. Your wins will come with more effort but perhaps they’ll feel more rewarding. And then when you go back to Easy Mode, you’ll be sailing! That’s fun too.


On to tomorrow’s workout! We’re back to hills, but Boston and London marathoners will have something slightly different.


Hills people – Riverdale/Leslieville peeps meet at Pottery, Beach peeps meet at Glen Manor. Pottery crew arrives anytime between 6:10-6:30 (ish) and just gets into it. Beach crew meet at the bottom of Glen Manor at (?? Message Tanis).


The workout: 1 full Pottery (400m), 1 Half Pottery (200m), 5 min tempo. Repeat 3-4 times.


Boston Marathoners: 1 mile @ Marathon pace, 90 sec rest, 2 x 400 @ faster and smooth w 90 seconds, 800m @ Marathon pace


London Marathoners:

1 mile @ Marathon pace, 90 sec rest,

400-600-800-600-400 w either 1:15 rest or 200m jog if you need to get to the next start spot – ranging from 5K to 10K pace

90 sec rest, finish w 1 mile @ MP


I will be at Pottery sometime around 6:20-ish!


See you in the am 🙂







April 2, 2024 – Community

Hey Gang!


Hope everyone had a great long Easter Weekend and enjoyed the great weather and hopefully some time with family and friends. And maybe a tiny bit of chocolate.


 Many people on this list are ramping up for Spring marathons along with getting in shape for races of other distances. When training for individual events, there is an element of specificity in terms of what people need with regards to pacing and support. What I am loving about the people who have found themselves within the gravitational sphere of the Lower East Siders, is that we are able to understand our needs and ask for support from those around us, and offer it back up when and where we can. I’ve noticed different groups of people banding up for parts or all of their long runs. I’ve noticed teammates driving to races to cheer others on or even run parts of the race with them. I’ve seen friends making plans to travel and stay with their teammates to support them on race day. I hear many conversations between people sharing their tips and strategies for various things (nutrition, injury management, favourite gear, …) I see people sharing their expertise and energy to help others improve (looking at you Kerry K!) I see sub-groups popping up with people who are like-minded in their non-running sports and want to support each other in that (Triathletes!!!) I am definitely not a part of many or even most of these little support bubbles. That would be impossible. But just being part of the web of support means we’re all contributing to everyone’s success. This community we’ve created together makes me so happy.


On that note, I want to share this space with people. Starting next week, I’m taking submissions for the newsletter from anyone on this list. Topics can be anything. Bring us into your experience and perspective. Does not have to be all sunshine and rainbows! I’d love to hear other voices on here. Just submit to me by Monday and I’ll send it out on Tuesday with the workout on the bottom. Doesn’t have to be long. Can even be a poem. No pressure at all! (but if no one raises their hand I might have to start picking people … lol) I’m looking forward to hearing from you 


On to tomorrow’s workout – Lakeshore and Leslie! 6:05 drills, 6:15 GO!


  1. Sets of 1 mile, 90 sec rest, 2 x 400 w 1 min. 2 min bw sets. Up to 3 sets. Miles at HM pace, 400’s at 5K pace.


The idea is to get some good threshold/HM pace work while learning how to deal with and use lactic acid from the speedier stuff. The more efficient we are at clearing and utilizing lactate, the faster we can run “comfortably”.


That is all – see you in the am!





Tuesday, March 26, 2024 – Passion

Hi Everyone!


Some really great runs over the weekend: at Around the Bay we had Colette, Carol and Brianna who all ran solid 35.4K PB’s! As I said to some of them – awesome resilience and attitude with being able to “go with the flow and a positive attitude” with the ever changing (increasing!) distance on a very challenging course. I know we had other teammates out there supporting our runners – love that too. Also, in international news, Jasmin Paris became the first woman ever to complete the Barkley Marathon (an insane event which I won’t explain here but you have to look up). The race director had said that no woman would ever complete it because they were not strong enough. Way to go and thank-you Jasmin. You have forged a path so other women can believe in themselves and can achieve great things when others are telling them they don’t and they can’t.


What I’ve been thinking about this week is what does drive us to do very hard things, and keeps us going despite challenges and difficulties. I see some people living their lives this way – undertaking big challenges and thriving in circumstances which I feel would make me crumble. And I myself have times when I’m invigorated by hard things and have felt most alive when pursuing them. What I think marks the difference between these things making us stronger and happier vs battled and defeated, is the passion and purpose we bring to them. If I were asked tomorrow whether I wanted to try the Barkley Marathon for ‘fun’, I would probably say – sure! Great experience. And then quickly decide after a lap (if I made it that far) that it wasn’t worth it and drop out. What allowed Jasmin to dig through her deepest pain and remain engaged and motivated and feeling like it was something she wanted to do? It was her deep passion and belief in the personal value of reaching her goal. This type of passion doesn’t just pop up out of nowhere, and it’s not an endless resource. My guess is that in a year, Jasmin won’t have the same passion and drive to complete it again. She also probably didn’t wake up one day with the courage and belief she could do it. She probably fostered the passion through training and dreaming and investing and building towards it. Passion doesn’t just land on you and strike out of the blue. Sometimes we have to work towards it.


I can think back to times in my life when I’ve had that energy – the belief in the pursuit. I’ve gone to bed excited about waking up early the next morning to train. I’ve taken on work roles where I’ve gladly driven hundreds of kilometers, stayed up late, woken up early, been on the road for days in a row, given presentations which scared me. I look back at some of these things and think “I could never do that now”. But the thing is, it’s only hard if you don’t care about the pursuit or the outcome. If you have a passion for what you’re doing, nothing feels all that hard. Or at least, the hard feels good. It’s the same with training. When you’re running with no passion, it is very hard to call up the same effort levels and enjoyment in the work as when you’re running with a dream and purpose. This is not to say you always have to have that passion – we all go through times when we’re just putting one foot in front of the other while other areas of life take precedence. Just don’t undermine the mental and emotional components. If you’re not feeling the passion, don’t measure yourself against people who do, or even yourself when you have it. It’s very different. 


I’ll be honest – I’ve found myself a little drained of passion the past few months. I’ve been in survival mode in various areas, and that’s taken most of my mental and emotional resources. And running has felt hard and a bit directionless. But I’m feeling myself coming out of it. Things are settling down, and I’m starting to feel the glimmer of excitement about certain challenges. Now it’s up to me to foster that feeling and nurture the passion and make it grow. My ability to do hard physical things is not at all about training my body to do them – it’s about convincing my mind that it’s worth it. Just something to think about.


On to tomorrow’s workout – back to Lakeshore and Leslie! 6:05 drills, 6:15 GO!!!


Many of us are in the phase of a marathon build where we could use some meat ‘n potatoes 800’s. So let’s do those.


  1. 6-8 x 800 w 1:30 rest. The first couple can be HM pace, then let’s see if we can work our way down to 10K pace.
  2. If coming back from ATB, listen to your body. Do the lower end, and keep them at tempo. That is if the aches and pains are mostly quiet.
  3. If doing this by time: 6-8 x 3 min Hard w 1:30 Easy.


That is all – see you in the am!







Tuesday, March 19, 2024 – Boundaries

Hey Gang!


First up, huge congrats to Cindy who ran the NYC Half on the weekend with a PB and breaking the 1:30 barrier! Great job. I’m loving the momentum of spring races. Keep ‘em coming – I might even jump into one soon! Coming up this weekend we have Around The Bay with Brianna and Colette running the very random 34K distance. Wohoo!!!


Last night I took a yoga class for a little stretch before bed. It was a very chill class – not one flex of a muscle – all stretch. But at one point I looked over and there was a guy just lying on his mat with a towel as a pillow and sleeping. Or meditating – I don’t know. And I thought “good for you. You know what you do and don’t want to do and you’re owning it”. I already take that approach myself in yoga since I can’t get anywhere close to what the instructor is doing and many moves are completely off the table for me. Neither myself or the guy were trying to achieve anyone else’s standards or results. (Well, me a little more than the guy). We knew what we needed and just did that.


I’ve embraced this perspective more as I’ve gotten older and trust myself more. I also appreciate it in others when they push back and say “I’m not doing this” or “I’m only running this much”. I believe they know what they need. It’s hard to maintain these boundaries in this era of optimization. With everyone telling us the perfect amount of protein we need in every meal, the ideal number of miles to run in a week, how much water we need to be drinking with which supplements, how many days a week we need to be lifting heavy weights, how many hours of sleep we should get, how present and attentive we need to be to our relationships … There is always more we could be doing and things we could be doing “better”. In the optimization world, there are no boundaries. So I find there is actually a freedom in rebelling against that and saying “I’m not doing that”. I like it when I hear this from athletes I coach. Sure, there are ALWAYS more things they can be doing to help make them faster/stronger/more resilient. But I first need to know the boundaries they have that they will work around. If they don’t have any, I know something will probably pop up mid-cycle that makes the training untenable. I think it is fine to push back and rebel against a world that will keep asking us to give more and more with no end. In fact, it’s a true act of confidence which others can choose to follow. So go take a nap in your yoga class. I will admire your self-belief and ability to rebel against optimization and judgement.


Why rebel if there is nothing permanent in oneself worth preserving? – Albert Camus


Rebellion, though apparently negative, since it creates nothing, is profoundly positive in that it reveals the part of man which must always be defended. – Albert Camus


On to tomorrow’s workout. We’re back to HILLZZZZ! Let’s change it up though with half hills + tempo. Or 200m hills for those in the beach. These give you a little more pep because we can run up them with a bit more gusto. Pottery crew will stay at Pottery, but we’ll do our hills starting at the stairs vs at the bottom.


Let’s do sets of 3 x half hill, followed by 6 min tempo (yes, a bit longer than the previous 4 min). The longer tempo pieces are getting more specific to ppl racing a spring marathon. 2 to 3 sets. 1 minute-ish (or walk to and from your tempo spot) between hills and tempo.


I’ll aim to be at Pottery at around 6:20-ish. Come when it works and start when you get there.


That is all – see you in the am!





Tuesday, March 12, 2024 – Taking a break!

Hey Gang!


Happy March Break to all! As such, I am on holiday so won’t be there for workout and not writing much of a post. Except to say, I am truly relishing the full detachment and break from my everyday routine and responsibilities, and am already feeling refreshed and ready to get back at it when I return. Even if you’re not “training” for anything, I think it’s still a good idea to disengage and take a break from your routine every now and then. Sometimes with space comes a different perspective: maybe you realize how much you love the routine you have and you can’t wait to get back. Maybe there are a few things you can change or let go of, or some things you want to bring back with you or add. It often takes a bit of distance to see and appreciate things more clearly. So whether you are physically getting away or not, try to create some space for yourself. Breaks can really help. And I don’t mean a day or two. This is different from a “down week”. Give yourself a week of completely different activities and routines. Step away from what you normally fall into and force yourself to do something different for a week. If you’re at home, maybe that’s a routine of jumping in the lake with the sunrise swimmers instead of a run. Or making the drive somewhere with trails for a hike. Or radically sleeping in and taking yourself out for breakfast. But do this every day for a week – it has to be a mental break as well. No guilt, no “should be doing”. You shouldn’t have to spend money to be able to transport yourself away and get some perspective. We all deserve a break – you may not need it right now, but if you’re putting it off, make sure to take it at some point soon. It will help.


For tomorrow! Lakeshore and Leslie – 6:05 Drills, 6:15 GO!


I won’t be there and I think a few people will be away. If someone knows where the 400m mark is and can signal it with something that would be awesome. If it’s warm you can drop a toque or jacket – anything will work.


  1. Start with 1 mile tempo. 2 min rest. Then 3 sets of 4 x 400m. First set @ 5K pace w 1:00 rest. 3 min bw sets. Next 2 setw with 1:15, couple seconds faster.
  2. If doing this by time, 6-8 min tempo, 2 min easy, 4 x 90 seconds ON, 60 seconds easy, 3 min easy, 4 x 90 ON, 1:15 easy, 3 min easy, 4 x 90 seconds ON, 1:15 easy. OR if it’s easier, 6-8 min tempo, 2 min easy, 3 sets of 5 x 1 min ON, 1 min Off, 3 min bw sets. I’ll prob do that one bc more simple.


That is all – I won’t see you but have a great one!





Tuesday, March 5, 2024 – re-Prioritization

Hi Everyone!


First up, huge congrats to everyone who ran the Chilly Half!!! Sam F who PB’d! Ingrid who crushed it in a new age group! Bob who negative split! Amy, Shauna, Jason who executed smart, tough and solid training runs. And with that, the seal to spring races has been broken – bring ‘em on!!!


What I’ve been thinking about this week is about prioritization. Or rather, re-prioritization. It’s true that most of us aren’t looking for things to fill up our time. Almost everything we undertake takes us away from something else. So we have to be intentional about where we’re directing our time and energy. For me, running is always on the list of priorities. It always has been. I don’t consider that to be selfish because it’s what supports my ability to address my many other priorities. But also, my running as a priority is very flexible. It moves up and down the priority ladder as needed. I think many in this group can relate. We’re cooking along just fine and then suddenly life shifts, and something zooms right to the top of our priority ladder, shuffling everything else down a rung. That doesn’t mean the other things fall off or get neglected completely – it just means they don’t come very first when deciding where to direct time and energy.


Personally, I have had times when running has enjoyed a very high position, if not top rung. That’s when I have the time and energy to focus on myself and my training and my recovery and my mental and emotional engagement in the sport. That’s satisfying and fun. I have also had times where running has moved down to fourth or fifth on the list of priorities. During those times I like to say “I’m just staying in good enough shape so that I can get into shape again when I want to”. I keep my foot in the door. And I know when life has shifted and opened up space for me to bring running back into focus. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been through this cycle of running shifting up and down the priority ladder. This is often not something we plan. Sometimes someone in our life suddenly needs more attention, or our career demands more, or we have to put some aspect of our own physical or mental health in the top spot. That is life and to be expected. Just don’t make running so rigid that it is all or nothing. We can simply shift it down a few notches. Then, when things open up again, we can juggle it back up and reprioritize it. The key is acknowledging and accepting that not everything can be a top priority. That defeats the definition of the word. But also, if things aren’t a top priority, don’t neglect them completely. Because sooner or later they’ll demand their spot on the top rung.


On to tomorrow’s workout: Lakeshore and Leslie – 6:05 drills, 6:15 GO.


Speaking of ladders, let’s do one! Down and back up.

Except people who RACED Chilly. If you RACED it (not training through), take a break or come out and jog. If you were training through, well, as it sounds, you keep training.


  1. Mile-800-600-400-600-800-mile (option for this last one to be any distance from mile to 400). Paces: Half marathon – 10K – 5K – faster – 5K – 10K – Half marathon. Let’s take 2 mins after the miles and 800’s and 1:30 after the 600’s and 400’s.


That is all – see you in the am!





Tuesday, Feb 27, 2024 – Clapping

Hey All!


Spring is in the air, and with that the scent of spring races is noticeable. Starting off this weekend with the Chilly Half. Some are racing it, some are training through, but it’s always a great way to “wake up” from winter and decide where we want to take our training for the season.


What I’ve been thinking about this week is the ability to ask for support. I’ve always thought that “distance runner” is a personality type more than a chosen activity. Whether our sport has shaped us, or we’ve been drawn to it because it suits us, we do tend to exhibit some similar characteristics. Among these are independence and self-reliance. We know that when we’re out there, training or racing, it’s really us vs. us, and us with us. We show up for ourselves, learn to trust ourselves, and spend a lot of time in our own heads.


I’ve been at a lot of track meets lately. If you’ve been to any track meets, you’re probably familiar with the Jumper’s Clap. It’s the slow, rhythmic clap that jumpers (triple, long, high, pole vault) do above their heads before taking off. The crowd and fellow competitors immediately join in, and everyone within earshot starts clapping slowly. The jumper then prepares themselves and builds into a sprint before taking off as the clapping cadence increases all around them to help propel them forwards or up. The jumpers are basically saying “hey, help me out here” and everyone does. Now, there is a lot going on at track meets, and often I’m not even looking at the jumper or I’m continuing on with a conversation I’m having, but I always participate in the clap. When someone asks for support, you’re more than happy to support them. And jumpers are very good at asking for support.


I’ve always admired this about them. Sure, it’s ballsy. It’s very “look at me … here I go!” But why not? It’s so different from most distance runners. But I think we could take an example from this. We can learn to ask for support when we need it. People around us want to support us if they know how. This is why I tell people to let others know of any big goals. Bosses, colleagues, family members can all inadvertently put up barriers to you trying to get your shit done, but if they are aware of a big goal, more than likely they will want to support you. So put it out there. Tell everyone you’re training for a marathon or to run a PB in the 5K … whatever it is. Most peoples’ natural instinct will be to assist you in getting there. The trick is, you have to start clapping for yourself first. Then they’ll all join in.


On to tomorrow’s workout! We’re a bit divided here. People still working on strength and a solid base with some pep are doing Hills + Tempo. People racing or training through the Chilly Half this weekend will do a little more specific prep work.


  1. Hills: I think a lot of ppl liked the last one (myself included), so let’s repeat it. You can add a set if feeling a little stronger. 2-3 sets of 2 x Pottery rd (or 400m hill), walk to tempo spot (~ 1 min), 4 min tempo.
  2. If racing Chilly: 600 at race pace, 2 min rest, then 4 x 400 a lil quicker w 1:30 rest
  3. If training through Chilly (ie. Executing a solid training run): 2 x 800 @ half marathon pace w 1:30 rest, 2 x 600 @ 10K pace w 1:15, 4 x 400 @ 5K w 1, 1 x 800 @ half marathon pace – 2 min bw all sets. This is to set you up to find a good marathon pace rhythm in the race that you can stick to.


That is all – see some of you in the am!







Tuesday, February 20, 2024 – Exploration

Hi All,


Hope you all had a relaxing long Family Day weekend. It actually felt like winter! Not sure about you guys, but I’ve actually been enjoying the cold and snow – it feels novel, unlike past Februarys where it’s had me beaten down by now.


What I’ve been thinking about this week is running as exploration. Not exploration in the geographic sense (which I guess it often is as well), but more in the sense of how it affects and changes our bodies and ourselves. I think having this sense of curiosity is in large part what keeps us engaged. If a coach or algorithm could tell you exactly where you would end up if you followed a certain protocol, I think you’d find it would take the excitement and fun out of what you’re doing. Part of the point is the exploration into what might lie ahead.


This past weekend, my co-coach and I were coaching some of our university athletes in meets. It is almost the end of the season, and they are keen to keep testing themselves and trying to reach certain marks. It was a busy weekend, with two meets in two different cities in two days. Then one athlete wanted to run a third race on the third day. We both knew this was not likely to lead to a strong performance. We’ve both had enough experience to make that call. But the athlete didn’t have that experience. He is young and he was eager. So, we let him do it, and it was not a strong performance. My point is, that now, he KNOWS. We could have told him endlessly about our experience, but until he experienced it himself, he wouldn’t really know. He had to go out and explore and discover. He is now that much more informed and wiser and he will carry that understanding with him.


This is why, as a coach, in most cases I feel I am more of a consultant. I can tell you what I think, but I want you to go out and learn for yourselves. I will never say “I told you so”. Because telling you so doesn’t really teach you. Failure is an experience through which you learn and grow. Probably even more than success. So keep exploring. Discover what makes you grow. Be curious. This is a pretty fun journey if you can maintain that sense of open minded wonder. You’ll never find the answers in a book, podcast or from an expert. So keep going out and answering your own questions!


I just want to leave you all with one more message for the week: You are doing a good job. Please repeat this to yourselves if no one has told you lately. Whether it’s in running, work, caring for others, or any other area where you’re devoting your energy: you are doing great and what you are doing matters.


On to tomorrow’s workout: Lakeshore and Leslie: 6:05 Drills, 6:15 GO!


  1. Let’s do drills down to Carlaw so we can start at that end.

Then: 800 tempo, 1 min rest, 600 @ 5-10K, 1 min rest, 200 @ faster. 3 min rest.

Repeat for total of 3-4 sets.

I like the mix of paces here. Coming back to tempo after some speedier work helps to teach your body to process and use lactate as fuel. We also get to sprinkle in some faster work to work on running economy and speed. We have to keep those gears alive, even in the winter months!


That is all – see you in the am.





Tuesday, Feb 13, 2024 – Role models

Hey Everyone!


Happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow for those who celebrate. And Happy eating chocolate day for those who celebrate that!


As most of you have probably heard, the marathon world record holder, Kelvin Kiptum, died tragically in a car accident the other day, alongside his coach. Kiptum had recently run the world record of 2:00:35 in the Chicago marathon, and was expected to be the first person to break 2 hours in a legitimate marathon. The news of Kiptum’s death is sad on many levels. He was young, had years of great things ahead of him, and had a close circle of family and friends who will miss him very much. But what we as runners are also collectively mourning is the loss of a model of our potential. Maybe not us personally, but what is humanly possible. When we see someone out there doing something we didn’t think was possible, it can lead to a sense of awe. It is also inspiring. These are positive feelings which are energizing and motivating and then lead us to take action. We are raised up by people who lead in this way.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: each one of us fills that role for someone else. You probably will never know who or how many people you inspire and raise up that way, but our actions are noticed. Obviously we’re not inspiring everyone. But there is someone in your boat who doesn’t think they can do ‘it’ (whatever ‘it’ is), and sees you doing it and it pulls them up. It might feel like there’s no way our little plod in the dark hours or our non-PB time, which doesn’t even feel like a great accomplishment to ourselves, can make anyone take notice. But people do. Maybe it’s your neighbours or a colleague or someone walking to work or someone watching the race go by. And maybe that person can identify with your particular stage or struggles in life. And for that person, you are a beacon of what is possible. I know I’ve been inspired by people in this way. People who probably think they are just ordinary and going along doing their ordinary things, but I recognize a sister in what she is challenged by, and see her reaching for goals or doing big things despite it all, and I think, “it’s possible”, so I go out and try too. There are Kelvin Kiptum’s out there raising people up in their own way every day. And most likely we are all that person for someone as well. I find that to be good motivation when I’m getting discouraged or feel like I’m climbing an uphill battle. Someone else is probably going through a similar stage, and could use a little shot of self-belief. RIP Kelvin Kiptum – you inspired us all.


On to tomorrow’s workout: Lakeshore and Leslie – 6:05 Drills, 6:15 GO


Let’s get back to some meat n potatoes 800’s. Up to 8 of them with 1:30 rest.

Start at threshold pace (somewhere between half marathon and 10K pace). I think most of us should stay there for now. If you’re feeling great you can pick it up for the last couple. If you’re not feeling great, do 6 and keep them closer to tempo pace. There are a lot of range options in this workout and they are all solid!


That is all – see you in the am.







Tuesday, Feb 6, 2024 – Recovery

Hey Gang!


Happy “feels like Spring”! The best thing about this weather is the footing. Some of my usual routes that are off-limits in winter are still available to me. I’ve been caught before in both Taylor Creek Park and the Moore Park Ravine where I’ve stubbornly maintained my route despite the ice, and pushed too far in before getting caught in a spot of no return where I couldn’t go forwards or back and just had to shuffle/slide while grabbing trees for support for a few kilometers. Things you only have to learn once, or in my case, twice. But despite my rule of never doing these routes again in winter, I might try them out mid-Feb this year. Indulgence!


What I’ve been thinking about this week is Recovery. I know I’ve spoken about this before, but it’s worth reminding ourselves. It’s hard when you get in the groove of a training routine, to remember that it’s not the training that is making you stronger – it’s the response to the training. If you’re not recovering, you’re just hitting yourself over the head with a hammer. And unfortunately, we internalize the hitting ourselves part as being “good” and it can sometimes in an odd way be cathartic, but without a corresponding adaptation and response, it does not move us ahead at all. The tricky thing about this is, there is no universal formula to stress and recovery. And we have to view ourselves as a global system with mental, emotional and social factors as well as the physical.


Training is not just as simple as stimulating a muscle and watching it get stronger. It is a complicated mix of mechanical load, neuromuscular adaptations, hormonal responses, nutrient and chemical pathways in the body, … It makes sense then that recovery doesn’t just mean resting the body. Recovery involves hormonal response, stress response, mental state, nutrient and micro nutrient availability, … When we are stressed or overwhelmed or struggling emotionally, our recovery response can be compromised. That doesn’t mean we won’t recover, it just means it might take a little more time during these phases. I think it’s important to be honest about this. We often want to continue on our usual plan to prove to ourselves we’re tough and can fight through when other areas of life are throwing us curve balls. Which might help mentally, and I do believe our ability to work hard persists and can even be enhanced during these times. But we have to be very honest and clear eyed about our recovery. Two or three hard efforts a week might have to come down to one or two in order to make the same gains.


Many high end college coaches have learned this. During exams they have learned that their athletes tend to have high injury rates. So they back right off the intensity during these phases. Their athletes didn’t just suddenly become weak or unfit – they just can’t recover as well as usual because of additional life stresses. And once the stress has diminished, they can roll right back into where they were without having lost any ground.


It’s a bit naïve to think we’ll go through life without any additional external stresses and that we’ll always be able to maintain the same level of training with the same recovery response. We all enter our own “exam phase” at different times, and the best thing we can do is acknowledge it and adapt our training instead of white knuckling it. Whatever we’re going through shall pass, I promise, but let’s keep our bodies strong in the process. Train, then recover extra. Sleep, eat, meditate, walk, socialize, laugh, read, listen to music … this is all as important to your training as the work part, and probably even more so.


On to tomorrow’s workout – we’re back to hills! I think we’ve got some good base hills in, so let’s progress to hills + tempo. This is particularly helpful for those with hilly races on the sched.


Let’s try this cycle: 2 x full Pottery, 1-2 min easy (to cross the street or get somewhere flat-ish and traffic free) – 4 min tempo. Repeat 2-3 times.


That’s all – see you in the am!